Briya student Elisabeth Hando with Briya's executive director Christie McKay at AEFL week

AEFL Week 2014

Briya student advocates for family literacy, wins essay contest

Briya student Elisabeth Hando advocates for herself and others during Adult Education and Family Literacy (AEFL) WeekBriya student Elisabeth Hando stepped up to advocate for herself and others during Adult Education and Family Literacy (AEFL) Week, September 22-26.

Hando, a native French speaker from Cameroon, started as an Advanced II student at Briya this year. As an assignment in her Digital Literacy class, Hando wrote a letter to mayoral candidate and 4th Ward council-member Muriel Bowser, responding to the question, “What motivated you to go back to school, and how has that decision impacted your life and your family’s life?”

Hando’s letter was selected for submission to the citywide AEFL Week essay contest, sponsored by the DC Adult and Family Literacy Coalition. Her letter won first place in the ESOL category.

“I was motivated to continue my education and learn English so that I could support my children with their homework and for access to more job opportunities,” Hando said in the letter. “Most of the families that flee their countries in difficult conditions seek a better life, and they deserve education opportunities.”

Hando was recognized for her outstanding essay at the AEFL week Big Tent Meeting on September 26, where she was awarded a Dell laptop and had a chance to address the audience.

Hando explained how education allowed her to improve her English and gave her the confidence and skills to open her own daycare and start her own nonprofit organization, Renaissance Center for Culture and Education, which offers programs including mentoring, performance art and French language classes for children.

In addition to winning the essay contest, Hando was part of a group of adult learners, including six other Briya students, who attended AEFL Advocacy Day at the Wilson Building on September 24. The group met with council-member Bowser to advocate for family literacy and adult education programs.

Hando spoke to Bowser, using her experience to demonstrate the importance of programs like Briya’s.

“Adult education should be a priority because it has a lot of impact on our families,” Hando said.